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THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Oil-News Roundup 9 May 2006

Oil-News Roundup

The WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE
May 9, 2006

Crude-oil futures fell slightly and ended below $70 as traders responded to reports of a feelings-soothing letter from Iran's president to President Bush. Here is today's well of news about oil and fuel prices.

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SHELL BUYS BLACKROCK: Shell Canada Ltd., a unit of Royal Dutch Shell PLC, agreed to buy Canadian bitumen producer BlackRock Ventures Inc. for about $2.17 billion. Shell and other major oil companies have been scrambling to pump more oil and natural gas out of the ground. BlackRock (not to be confused with the famous New York private-equity firm) specializes in squeezing bitumen, a low-grade, sticky crude oil, from oil-sands deposits in Alberta. While turning oil sands into crude is a costly and difficult process, it has become an increasingly attractive alternative as oil prices have skyrocketed along with political tensions in parts of the world where crude comes easier.

HEDGING AT THE PUMP: While many Americans are paying $3 or more a gallon for gasoline, others are paying much, much less. Among those lucky few are customers of First Fuel Banks, a Minnesota company that bills itself as the only gasoline retailer in the country where customers can buy fuel for the future and hedge against rising prices, the Associated Press reports.

$100 Oil?: International Energy Agency executive director Claude Mandil warned that oil prices would likely stay high and could climb to $100 a barrel, Australia's Courier Mail reports.

Telecommuting to Cope: Some cities are better suited for telecommuting than others, making them the best-prepared to handle a gas-price shock, the Wall Street Journal Online reports.

Japan Gas Prices: Japan's average retail gasoline price has hit about $4.56 a gallon, its highest level in more than 15 years, the Associated Press reports.

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